by BriteHeart | 1.4.19
Despite days of walking, illness, and uncertainty, Honduran native Joel Eduardo Espinar is determined to continue the arduous trek with his wife and children as part of a migrant caravan winding its way through Mexico toward the U.S. border. (Nov 2) AP
(Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images)
When I first learned about this second large caravan from Honduras my first thought, like the last time, was whether any of the friends I have made there over the last 20 years were making the journey.
My next thought is always one of hope that, if they are taking part in protest via exodus, that my friends are safe. I do rest assured by the solidarity of churches, store owners, families, and nonprofits along the migrants’ journey providing food and shelter.
There is support for the 4,000-member caravan of migrants in search for jobs, justice, health and education. Yet, my brothers and sisters in Honduras marching and the ones who stayed home are not safe.
Whether the migrants are turned away at the U.S.-Mexico or even the Guatemala-Mexico border is not the point of the protest. The point of these mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, neighbors by blood and history marching to Uncle Sam’s gates is to challenge the U.S.-Honduran oligarchy. For neither government is working to the benefit of Honduras.
2019 political cartoons from the USA TODAY Network
Honduran dependence on the United States for aid and commerce has spilled over into a continuation of the neo-colonial banana republic brotherhood of decades passed. Money invested in the very few hands who receive it typically does not make it to the hundreds of thousands without basic essentials such as clean water and safe homes.
From the 2009 anarchy the Hillary Clinton-lead State Department refused to call a coup and the 2016 assassination of international environmental activist Berta Cáceres by U.S.-trained military leaders, to the coup government changing the constitution so that current President Juan Orlando Hernandez could run for a highly-contested reelection the Trump administration recognized, the U.S.-Honduras relationship seems to further spin cycles of poverty and lawlessness.
The drastic benefits to public health, employment, and anti-corruption in government the people cry for are instead lost to an external debt 45 percent of GDP and one of the world’s highest murder rates for both women and activists. The migrants of 2018’s caravans see a government crippled by outside influence.
However, what if the billions in foreign aid and international loans were used to put the country to work on New Deal style improvements across the nation?
Why wouldn’t the U.S. work with Honduras to install a national clean water infrastructure to combat the number one public health risk to children worldwide?
How much stronger and more positive would our nation’s relationship be with Honduras if instead of cutting off aid to people already living in demoralizing poverty the United States used its aid to support Honduras in investing in national green energy initiatives like those which have been so successful in Costa Rica?
What if international aid targeted homelessness, literacy and nutrition instead of propping up resource-depleting plantations, polluting factories, and military operations? Call it another Marshall Plan; call it Trump to the Tropics. Either way, our impact can be profoundly more positive with the people in mind.
Michael Franklin (Photo: Submitted)
As an international advocate for policies which help more Hondurans live more just lives I believe it is imperative the volunteer community also put pressure on USAID, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and business community in Honduras to invest in putting families to work building the safe, democratic, healthy, educated, green communities they deserve.
If there is one thing the 60,000 individuals who travel to Honduras to volunteer could do to help Hondurans realize justice and prevent future caravans from risking the journey north it is this.
The money is there along with the willpower, work ethic, and determination of a people. All we have to do is look into the eyes of the migrant and her family back home and say “It is your turn.”
Michael Franklin organizes a series of community development workshops for indigenous community leaders, women, and youth with various nonprofits across Honduras. Franklin is a 2019 finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year and a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College studying educational leadership and learning in organizations.
Written by BriteHeart
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